Laying down a winning argument for every player on the Premier League Player of the Year shortlist.
Taking a back seat to the Champions League quarterfinals, the FA Cup semifinals and the Premier League title, the Premier League Player of the Year award will be announced on Sunday.
As April 23 rapidly approaches, we’re just a few weeks removed from the announcement of the shortlist.
We’ll take a moment to walk you through the reasons why each nominee deserves the prestigious award, starting with the favorite, N’Golo Kante.
All stats are from the official Premier League website.
70 percent of the Earth is covered in water, the other 30 percent is covered by N’Golo Kante.
Kante finds his name on the shortlist for the second time in as many years. A key piece in Leicester’s title-winning side last season, Kante made the switch to Chelsea over the summer.
Kante has been vital Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s success, making 31 appearances out of a possible 32.
“The Rat,” as dubbed by fellow Chelsea man Eden Hazard, displays his versatility and pure talent by swarming to wherever the ball may find itself all across the pitch.
Alongside Nemanja Matic in central midfield, Kante has been crucial to the Blues’ success at the back.
With 110 tackles to date, Kante ranks second in tackles among fellow Premier League midfielders.
Kante has won more than 50 percent of duels and has a tackle success rate of 66 percent throughout the season, making him one of the Premier League’s most efficient players.
Additionally, Kante sits fourth in the Premier League in passes among all players. His 1,899 passes trail only Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson and teammate Cesar Azpilicueta.
Very seldom has Kante not been at his best throughout this season. The 26-year-old has built a reputation of excellence.
After finishing outside the top three in PotY voting last season, Kante enters the event as heavy favorite to win the award.
Eden Hazard looks to join the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry and Nemanja Vidic as one of the only players to win the award twice.
Following a bitterly disappointing 2015-16 season, Hazard has returned to previous form this season under Conte.
A winner of the award in the 2014-15 season, Hazard is the only player on the shortlist to have previously won Player of the Year in England’s top flight.
With 14 goals in 30 appearances, Hazard trails only Dele Alli (16) in goals by midfielders. His 14 goals are tied with Sunderland forward Jermain Defoe at eighth among all players.
Hazard is one of the most fouled players in the entire league due to his playmaking ability once the ball is in his possession.
The Belgian’s versatility and ability to dribble through multiple defenders while scanning up the field make him lethal to opposing defenses.
Along with 14 goals in the Premier League this season, Hazard has tallied five assists. On top of five assists, he has successfully completed 98 through balls.
Hazard’s distinct approach also makes his teammates better.
Diego Costa, despite his recent scoring drought, and Pedro have great chemistry with the Belgian up front. The success of Costa (17 goals) and Pedro (seven goals) owes much to Hazard’s ability to attract defenders, and retain possession under pressure.
Hazard’s style of play, mastery in possession and ability to make those around him better highlight Hazard’s case to win the award.
The man who needs no introduction.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has often been compared to fine wine, as he only gets better with age.
Ibrahimovic, in his first year with Manchester United, continues to lead the Red Devils as they push for a top four finish.
Ibrahimovic has appeared in 28 of United’s 31 matches, which is remarkable for a 35-year-old striker. His 2,437 minutes put him in the top 10 for minutes played amongst forwards.
Ibrahimovic can influence and swing matches purely by being on the pitch.
The out-spoken, confident Swede has often left fans, opposing and supporting, starstruck with his polished and unbelievable finishes in crucial moments.
When Ibrahimovic joined United on a free transfer over the summer, some questioned his ability to perform in England’s top league during the later stages of his career.
However, Ibrahimovic proved skeptics wrong quickly as the most important player in Jose Mourinho’s squad. Ibrahimovic earned his first and only Player of the Month award in December of 2016.
Ibrahimovic has scored 17 goals, which ranks fourth in Premier League play. His 115 shots are only second behind Christian Eriksen of Spurs.
Despite seemingly falling out of the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot, Ibrahimovic’s chances are very much alive for Player of the Year due to his sheer talent for finding the back of the net.
Harry Kane and Kante are the only players to be named on the shortlist for two consecutive seasons.
Kane, the only Englishman on the list, is also nominated for the Young Player of the Year award.
The 23-year-old Spurs front man has missed significant time due to injury, but is worthy of the award nonetheless.
February’s Player of the Month winner has missed eight of Tottenham’s 32 matches with multiple knocks to his ankle.
Kane averages nearly one goal per game, an astonishing record.
The 2015-16 Golden Boot winner chases the title once again, with 20 goals in 24 matches. As it stands, he sits just four goals behind Romelu Lukaku in the Golden Boot race.
Kane is one of the most accurate finishers in the league with a 53 percent shooting accuracy. 40 of the Englishman’s 73 total shots have fallen on target.
All things considered, Kane is a perfect complement to Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen as he is able to put finishing touches on his midfielders’ created chances.
Possessing a big-play mentality, Kane has created five ‘big chances’ and racked up five total assists himself.
Kane’s prosperity proves vital in the title race as Spurs sit four points behind league leaders Chelsea.
No doubt a key leader in Spurs’ dressing room, Kane’s importance to his club is unparalleled.
“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” – J.R.R Tolkien.
Alexis Sanchez, in this case, is the ‘it’ to which Tolkien refers.
As Arsenal treads through its worst season since 1994-95, Sanchez has thrived as an individual.
The Chilean has appeared in all 31 of Arsenal’s Premier League fixtures this season, playing 2,628 minutes of football.
News surrounding the London club has been dominated by headlines about Arsene Wenger and poor outings from players such as Mesut Ozil.
Meanwhile, Sanchez has found a way to provide hope for the future for Gunners fans, despite exit rumors.
The 28-year-old sits third in the race for the Golden Boot as he has tallied 19 goals in 2016-17. Sanchez has displayed the capability to score in a variety of ways from all over the pitch.
Of his 19 goals, four come from set pieces (two penalties, two free kicks). Sanchez has netted 14 goals with his dominant right foot and struck the back of the goal with two headers.
In addition to his phenomenal goal tally, Sanchez has created eight big chances for teammates and attempted 53 crosses.
Furthermore, Sanchez leads the Premier League in assists. He has assisted nine goals in 31 games.
Sanchez’s instinct for finding the back of the net gives the Chilean a fair shot at winning the award, despite his team’s sub-par season.
The Belgian goal-scoring maestro is the youngest player to appear on the player of the year shortlist.
Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane are the only players to show up on the shortlist for Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year.
Despite being the youngest player listed, Lukaku is arguably the most physically-gifted forward on the list. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound forward is the perfect combination of swiftness and strength.
Lukaku possesses the power to hold possession, like Costa, but subsequently has the speed of Kane.
Lukaku’s unbelievable athleticism have allowed him to score 24 goals in just 32 appearances for Everton.
Although not a heavy favorite to win PotY, Lukaku has a four-goal cushion for the Golden Boot with five matches to play (six for some clubs), making him favorite for the goal-scoring award.
Lukaku, similar to Sanchez, has a skill set which enables him to deliver a lethal blow in any fashion. Lukaku has scored 11 goals with his left foot, seven with his right foot and six with his head.
Additionally, Lukaku has matched his 2015-16 stat totals for numbers such as assists, big chances created and crosses, while surpassing his goal total.
Lukaku has involved himself in half of Everton’s goals this season, despite missing a match due to injury. Being involved in 50 percent of a club’s league goals is nearly unheard of, especially for a team as good as Everton.